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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > July 2017 > The Jane game

The Jane game

Imagine if Jane Austen was trying to land a publishing deal in today’s competitive climate as Sophie Beal looks for reasons she might get overlooked

I blame Jane Austen for the fact my first novel is still on my hard drive. I read her books over and over again in my teens and twenties. It showed when I tried to write. If she could get away with three chapters of uninterrupted backstory, or several coincidences to move her plot along, surely I could. But she wrote her books over two centuries ago. Nowadays they might never have made it off the slush pile.

1 Slow starts

Google ‘best opening lines’ and the first line of Pride and Prejudice invariably comes up in the results. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife. It has authority and interest. It immediately promises romance and introduces the conflict in the story. How could any agent not want to see the rest of the manuscript?

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About Writing Magazine

How do you follow up one of the biggest books of the decade? The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins tells us about changing tracks and writing the book that matters to you in our star interview. What do editors want? There can't be anyone in a better position to tell you than debut novelist Anna Pitoniak, who worked as a Big Five editor before landing her book deal. How is your year's writing plan going? As 2017 hits the halfway mark, we help you stay on target. Look for leads, find the most up-to-date markets for your work and enter the latest writing competitions, with more than £50,000 in writing prizes, in the Writers' News pages, packed with news you can use.

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